Using WP-CLI for Batch Updating Contact Form 7 Postmeta Options

I recently set up Mailgun for a Codeable client who was using Contact Form 7. Unfortunately after integrating Mailgun to improve the reliability of email delivery, the formatting of the emails was not quite right. I managed to isolate the issue to a setting called Use HTML Content Type in Contact Form 7 which had to be checked. There were about 200 contact forms on this site and I didn’t want to have to update them all manually so I looked into WP-CLI.

WP-CLI 1.4.0 introduced some very useful command options for managing serialized settings in wp_options and wp_postmeta. This post shows you how to use these commands and then use them to batch update through hundreds of posts :).

Using WP-CLI for Batch Updating Contact Form 7 Postmeta Options

I did some digging in the database and found the values I needed to change in the wp_postmeta table.

You can see the options by first getting the post_id for the contact form which is under the contact form interface.

You can see the post_id in the contact form shortcode here 300.

This query will show you the postmeta information for the contact form ID 300 and the meta_key called _mail

wp db query "SELECT meta_value FROM $(wp db prefix --allow-root)postmeta WHERE post_id = 300 AND meta_key = '_mail'" --allow-root

In the output here, notice the use_html;b:1 meaning a boolean value which can be true (1) or false (0)

a:9:{s:6:"active";b:1;s:7:"subject";s:33:"WP Bullet Guides "[your-subject]"";s:6:"sender";s:44:"[your-name] <[email protected]>";s:9:"recipient";s:19:"[email protected]";s:4:"body";s:175:"From: [your-name] <[your-email]>
Subject: [your-subject]

Message Body:

This e-mail was sent from a contact form on WP Bullet (";s:18:"additional_headers";s:22:"Reply-To: [your-email]";s:11:"attachments";s:0:"";s:8:"use_html";b:1;s:13:"exclude_blank";b:0;}

Finding Registered Custom Post Types with WP-CLI

Let’s find the post-type name, the post_id and grab and change this value with WP-CLI.

This will show all registered post-types with WP-CLI.

wp post-type list --allow-root

We can see the wpcf7_contact_form post type

| name                 | label                        | description | hierarchical | public | capability_type     |
| post                 | Posts                        |             |              | 1      | post                |
| page                 | Pages                        |             | 1            | 1      | page                |
| attachment           | Media                        |             |              | 1      | post                |
| revision             | Revisions                    |             |              |        | post                |
| nav_menu_item        | Navigation Menu Items        |             |              |        | post                |
| custom_css           | Custom CSS                   |             |              |        | post                |
| customize_changeset  | Changesets                   |             |              |        | customize_changeset |
| wpcf7_contact_form   | Contact Forms                |             |              |        | post                |
| tablepress_table     | TablePress Tables            |             |              |        | tablepress_table    |
| vecb_editor_buttons  | Visual Editor Custom Buttons |             |              |        | post                |
| generate_page_header | Page Headers                 |             |              |        | page                |

Listing all Post IDs of Custom Post Type with WP-CLI

Now we can get a list of the Contact Form 7 posts

wp post list --post_type=wpcf7_contact_form --allow-root

Perfect, that’s the one: ID 300!

| ID  | post_title | post_name | post_date           | post_status |
| 300 | Contact    | untitled  | 2016-08-12 11:35:48 | publish     |

Listing Post Meta with WP-CLI

We can get the postmeta details for the contact form with this command for post_id 300

wp post meta list 300 --allow-root

There are multiple meta_keys, the _mail one has the serialized array of options

| post_id | meta_key             | meta_value                                                                                                                                                                                               |
| 300     | _form                |         [submit "Send"]  [recaptcha size:compact]           |
| 300     | _mail                | {"active":true,"subject":"WP Bullet Guides \"[your-subject]\"","sender":"[your-name] <[email protected]>","recipient":"[email protected]","body":"From: [your-name] <[your-email]>\nSubje |
|         |                      | ct: [your-subject]\n\nMessage Body:\n[your-message]\n\n--\nThis e-mail was sent from a contact form on WP Bullet (https:\/\/","additional_headers":"Reply-To: [your-email]","attach |
|         |                      | ments":"","use_html":true,"exclude_blank":false}                                                                                                                                                         |
| 300     | _messages            | {"mail_sent_ok":"Thank you for your message. It has been sent.","mail_sent_ng":"There was an error trying to send your message. Please try again later.","validation_error":"One or more fields have an  |
|         |                      | error. Please check and try again.","spam":"There was an error trying to send your message. Please try again later.","accept_terms":"You must accept the terms and conditions before sending your messag |
|         |                      | e.","invalid_required":"The field is required.","invalid_too_long":"The field is too long.","invalid_too_short":"The field is too short.","invalid_date":"The date format is incorrect.","date_too_early |
|         |                      | ":"The date is before the earliest one allowed.","date_too_late":"The date is after the latest one allowed.","upload_failed":"There was an unknown error uploading the file.","upload_file_type_invalid" |
|         |                      | :"You are not allowed to upload files of this type.","upload_file_too_large":"The file is too big.","upload_failed_php_error":"There was an error uploading the file.","invalid_number":"The number form |
|         |                      | at is invalid.","number_too_small":"The number is smaller than the minimum allowed.","number_too_large":"The number is larger than the maximum allowed.","quiz_answer_not_correct":"The answer to the qu |
|         |                      | iz is incorrect.","captcha_not_match":"Your entered code is incorrect.","invalid_email":"The e-mail address entered is invalid.","invalid_url":"The URL is invalid.","invalid_tel":"The telephone number |
|         |                      |  is invalid."}                                                                                                                                                                                           |
| 300     | _additional_settings |                                                                                                                                                                                                          |
| 300     | _locale              | en_US                                                                                                                                                                                                    |

Using the post meta get command we can look at this serialized options array for the _mail meta_key

wp post meta get 300 _mail --allow-root

Now you will see the array, it looks a bit messy but we can now access these with the meta pluck and meta patch commands.

array (
  'active' => true,
  'subject' => 'WP Bullet Guides "[your-subject]"',
  'sender' => '[your-name] <[email protected]>',
  'recipient' => '[email protected]',
  'body' => 'From: [your-name] <[your-email]>
Subject: [your-subject]

Message Body:

This e-mail was sent from a contact form on WP Bullet (',
  'additional_headers' => 'Reply-To: [your-email]',
  'attachments' => '',
  'use_html' => true,
  'exclude_blank' => false,

Accessing Serialized postmeta with WP-CLI

As of WP-CLI 1.4.0 it is now possible to access and modify WordPress options and meta stored in a serialized array with the pluck and patch commands!

wp post meta pluck syntax takes this form

wp post meta pluck <ID> <key> <key-name>

Using post_id 300 as the <ID>, _mail as the <key> and the <key-name> as use_html, the command looks like this

wp post meta pluck 300 _mail use_html --allow-root

In boolean logic 1 means true


Now we can update these values with the patch command whose syntax looks like this.

wp post meta patch update <ID> <key> <key-name> <value>

Using post_id 300 as the <ID>, _mail as the <key> and the <key-name> as use_html with the 1 as value, the command looks like this

wp post meta patch update 300 _mail use_html 1 --allow-root

Scripting with WP-CLI

In this simple bash script we create an array of all the Contact Form 7 post_ids.

Then we use the post meta patch command to update each programatically via a for loop through the array.

POSTIDLIST=($(wp post list --post_type=wpcf7_contact_form --field=ID --allow-root))

for POSTID in ${POSTIDLIST[@]}; do
    wp post meta patch update ${POSTID} _mail use_html 1 --allow-root

Just edit this loop to suit your needs, then copy and paste in SSH and watch the batch updating WP-CLI magic happen 🙂


wp post meta pluck
wp post meta patch
wp post meta list
wp post-type command